Behind the Lens: Shadows on Snow

by Mark Bowie | Photography

Maple Shadows on Snow, Chestertown

Exposure Data:
Approximately 1/30 sec, f/16, ISO 100
Pentax 6×7 Camera, Pentax 75mm lens, Fujichrome Velvia 100 film.

To me, at the top of the myriad tidbits of advice on how we can improve our photography are these: Find the light and shoot what’s in it, and, compose purposefully, including only elements that help the image and excluding those that may detract from it. Put simply: light and composition are critical components of a successful image.

On this winter morning, I found low-angled sunlight casting blue shadows from these maple trees onto a freshly snow-covered bank. I’ve often seen long, straight tree shadows on snowy landscapes, but finding these curving shadows was eye-opening. I knew instantly I was onto something special. I positioned myself to fill my foreground with the strong diagonals of the shadows, while keeping the tree trunks from overlapping one another. Their repeating vertical lines give the image depth. In support of that, the zig-zagging line of the driveway serves to pull the eye back through the composition. The angled snowline of the distant hillside carries it even further. All the compositional elements work in concert. The image is simple, clean and powerful, with no competing subjects to distract the performance.

But ultimately, it’s those big, blue curvaceous shadows that are so striking.

Mark Bowie is a frequent contributor to Adirondack Life magazine and a much sought-after public speaker, offering presentations for conferences, camera clubs and other groups. He is a staff instructor for the Adirondack Photography Institute, which has scheduled a full slate of workshops for 2018. For program descriptions see For more on Mark’s work, visit

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